zillow

Homes.com Grabs Zillow Turf In New York City

by Victor Lund on August 9, 2017

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Homes.com signs direct agreement to receive REBNY’s Residential Listing Service feed Norfolk, Va. (August 9, 2017) – Homes.com®, the leading online real estate destination and provider of real estate marketing solutions, has announced that the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) will join Homes.com’s Data Partnership Program through a direct syndicated feed agreement with REBNY’s Residential Listing Service (RLS). The new partnership will offer the more than 600 New York City residential brokerage firms, comprised of 12,860 agents participating in REBNY’s RLS, the option to display their listings on Homes.com and utilize free exposure to their audience of more than 14 million transaction-ready consumers monthly. Homes.com will also provide RLS participants with access to the Homes.com Connect Lead System. The Homes.com Data Partnership Program is committed to the responsible display of residential for-sale and rental listing information by always promoting the listing agent and brokerage prominently on its listing detail pages, and always routing consumer inquiries directly to the listing agent. “We welcome Homes.com to our RLS Syndication network that is expanding the reach of comprehensive, reliable residential listing information to consumers searching for homes in New York City,” said John Banks, president of REBNY. “Partnerships with trusted real estate solutions platforms like Homes.com are a benefit to our members. This direct feed agreement demonstrates the importance of working together with partners like Homes.com to better serve all parties and the public.” The benefits provided by Homes.com’s Data Partnership Program include: Prominent Branding – Clear attribution and branding for the listing agent and broker on listing detail pages. Consumer Leads – All leads generated from listing detail pages are emailed directly to the listing agent. REBNY Branding – Prominent branding for REBNY’s RLS as the trusted source of the listing information. Direct Links – All listings on Homes.com can include “deep links” back to the broker’s website. Homes.com’s Data Partnership Program also includes all of the features of the Homes.com Connect Lead System: Contact, Lead, & Task Manager – Manage contacts and leads in one central platform. Central Lead Management – Aggregate leads from various sources into one central lead management system. Email Campaigns – Instantly add prospects to drip email campaigns. Social Prospecting – Aggregate contacts from major social networks. Agent and Broker Profiles – Prominent Homes.com branding with contact information, biographies, and links to agent and broker websites. com’s Q&A – Instantly connect with consumers asking real […]

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Web analytics

If you ask any REALTOR® about the relationship between online website traffic and sales volume, they will tell you that there is a direct relationship. The conviction among Realtors® is that companies that have the most amount of consumer website traffic sell the most amount of homes. This belief has stirred the root of Realtor® emotions, causing them to vilify the Zillow Group. A new entry of concern is Redfin®, a company that has long battled with Zip Realty® for online website domination. Redfin’s IPO has been a great success that is causing competing brokers to contemplate their future in this online real estate landscape. WAV Group just completed a case study to explore the correlation between online success of a brokerage and transaction volume. The results of our survey indicate that winning online does not correlate to transaction success. The methodology for our research used the Seattle marketplace. This is Redfin’s top marketplace of any city in America. The top 10 broker websites for Seattle were culled though research using comScore and Hitwise. These services combine a number of methodologies for estimating web traffic to broker sites. They are not exact, like Google Analytics – but they do accurately estimate the share of consumer voice. As a percentage of overall traffic, they are very accurate. Seattle Share of Voice The total share of voice for all sites becomes negligible when you get down below ½ of a percentile. The top 10 consumer sites in the Seattle area contribute 65% of all consumer traffic. Below the top 10 are thousands of agent and broker websites that combine to deliver the other 35% of consumer traffic. Zillow’s estimate traffic is about 850,000 users per month in Seattle. They have about 1/3 of all traffic, so the total consumer audience is about 2.5 million consumers a month. Zillow – 31.0% Redfin – 15.2% Trulia – 7.4% Realtor.com – 7.1% Windermere – 1.3% Homes – 1.3% John L. Scott 1.0% Movoto – .7% Estately .7% *Coldwell Banker would be in the same ballpark at Windermere and John L Scott if you combine the traffic from the multiple Coldwell Banker sites. Seattle Share of Market There are a number of ways that you can measure market share by real estate brokers. Some look at units, others look at volume. For the purposes of this evaluation, we have chosen to look at units in 2016. […]

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Zillow Protects Broker Data

by Victor Lund on June 28, 2017

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WAV Group supports brokers and MLSs in constructing data licensing agreements with users of data records that belong to the broker. When a company like Zillow ingests broker data, like all recipients, they must adhere to the data license agreement which typically requires that you cannot allow the data to be used by a third party. The blog McMansionHell.com is learning the hard way that using data from Zillow without proper authority is a copyright violation that Zillow will pursue. Not only will Zillow pursue the violation, but they may be contractually bound to pursue the violation. The media around the case is a bit confused, so let me try to break it down in layman terms. There are two methods for licensing data to Zillow Group. I say Zillow Group because they do a great job of creating one license agreement for all of their websites. In the absence of a license agreement, the default agreement is the Terms of Use on their respective websites. Zillow manages a number of license agreements depending on how they are acquiring the data. The agreements that they have with Franchise Organizations like Realogy, Keller Williams, RE/MAX, etc have a certain flavor. Agreements with brokerages are a little different. Agreements directly with the Multiple Listing Service are also different. The primary covenants of these agreements is that Zillow Group will use the data for its intended purpose and not allow anyone else to use the data. If the broker sends the data to Zillow, its generally for advertising purposes. They would not expect Zillow to collect the data for the purpose of advertising a home for sale, then have Zillow turn around and ship it elsewhere for some other purpose. In this case, Zillow did not provide a data feed to McMansionHell.com. McMansionHell.com is subject to the Terms of Use that are published on Zillow as a user. McMansionHell.com scraped the data off of Zillow. The process is pretty easy to do on any computer. Simply right click on the image and save it to you computer. Here is where it gets interesting. Sometimes you can use an image from Zillow legally, and at other times you cannot. The digital millennium copyright act allows for some content sharing online. However, the Zillow Terms of Use are very specific. You can only use Zillow Group websites for their stated intent – looking for a […]

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Zillow is a Broker – So What?

by Victor Lund on June 21, 2017

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“Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, NRT, Redfin – all brokers. Do brokers drop out of IDX because they are selling homes in their market? Brokers share their listings with these large firms everyday. If Zillow joins the list, what’s the diff?” This is the conversation starter that an investment banker had with me today. I appreciate having conversations with people in the capital markets. Bankers see the world differently. They believe that markets shape themselves and that great companies lead markets. Perhaps Zillow Group has its heart in its current service offerings today. The company protests against becoming a brokerage, but everyone got very upset recently when they launched a pilot for Instant Offers that seemed broker-like: it’s a program whereby Zillow helps investors buy property by submitting offer letters directly to homeowners. Brokers don’t like it. Some agents really like it. The pilot is in its early months and restricted to a couple of large cities. Inman News reports that it has not translated into any investor purchasing any homes yet. Perhaps the pilot is a bust. On the other hand, the way the pilot was designed has an added component of delivering leads to Premier Agents. Instant Offers gives the consumer a choice – take the offer from the investor, or connect with an agent to get information about listing your home. News reports indicate that agents are getting listing leads, so the pilot is not all lost. An important thing to keep in mind when companies like Zillow test, is that innovation sometimes goes awry. Innovation sometimes produces different outcomes than expected. Zillow has been masterful at driving consumers to their websites and generating buyer leads. Now they may have stumbled upon a new way to generate seller leads more successfully, and that is their job! The investment banker made a statement that was crystal clear: “If Zillow Group’s Board of Directors believes that it is in the best interest of stockholders for Zillow to open a brokerage, or a mortgage bank, or a title company or whatever…. that is what the company will do. For now, they are doing great with the track that they are on.” P.S. Zillow surged past an $8.5 billion valuation and closed at $46.76 today (a market cap of $8.6 billion). The company is doing very well. Will brokers go nuclear if Zillow does become a broker? The only nuclear option for […]

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Did Zillow® Open the Door to Their Own Demise?

by Victor Lund on June 14, 2017

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One of the greatest philosophers of all time was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). For brevity, let’s call him Hegel and be thankful to the University of Berlin where he lectured. I will suspend with the deep philosophy I learned in college and summarize Hegel as the author of a triad of historical development referred to thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In our observation, the MLS is the thesis, Zillow® is the antithesis, and what happens next will be the synthesis. Moreover, I will argue that Zillow may have opened the door to their demise with the Instant Offers™ test. Thesis Real estate brokers have controlled the market over decades by virtue of their knowledge of a listing. This entire era evolved when the MLS evolved and knowledge of massive numbers of listings became the shared knowledge of large numbers of brokers and their sales associates. As research has confirmed, homes sell for more money when they are introduced to the widest number of real buyers that are working off the MLS. The thesis is that the MLS marketplace is an orderly environment that is founded upon the constitution that there is cooperation among buyer brokers and seller brokers and that compensation will be offered during cooperation. Hegel calls a beginning state of affairs a “thesis.” So for our philosophy lesson today, let’s just call the MLS before Zillow® the thesis. Antithesis For those of you who have education in Latin or root words, the term “anti” means the opposite or contrast to the thesis. In Zillow®, we certainly find a contrast to the MLS. Zillow is agent focused, and believes in the opposite of the MLS. Zillow wants to provide open access to the knowledge of a listing. Most of all, Zillow does not have any construct for offers of cooperation or compensation for brokers. In fact, they invite For Sale By Owner listings and invite offers to be made on properties without any broker involvement (sidebar: it is interesting that a consumer with no demonstration of experience is given the opportunity to put a listing on Zillow, but a licensed real estate agent with a contract to represent the consumer does not). Zillow represents the antithesis of the MLS because of the invitation to FSBOs, no offers of compensation or cooperation, and the invitation for buyers to make offers without a broker. Zillow is an open market trading environment […]

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Coldwell Banker Ackley Realty

When was the last time you got a friend request on Facebook from someone who hadn’t bothered to upload a profile photo and was still using the grayed-out floating head instead?   I’m hoping it was a while ago, but maybe you can remember how you felt when a faceless person reached out to touch you.  When I get one of those I simply delete the request and move on. If someone doesn’t care about enough about their friends and colleagues to even upload a picture I’m not really interested in connecting with them. Do you see how consumers may feel the same way when they encounter a faceless “secret agent” on a portal or third-party website? And on portals like Zillow, where other agents can advertise to appear on anyone’s listing, neglecting to add a photo or any other information about an agent could lose clients left and right as buyers gravitate toward the agent who looks like a human being instead of the one who really knows the listing. Here is a reminder of what consumers see when they go looking for more information about your agents and who they are. Art, Cheryl, David, Eric and John look like pleasant, competent people, but it’s anyone’s guess what the other 13 agents on the page are like. All we know is that they couldn’t be bothered to upload an image, and we’re probably out of luck when it comes to a profile, too. Brokers, it’s your brand at the top of the page, so this reflects on you, too. But what can you do about it? Make profile set-up part of agent onboarding. If your agents are creating or updating profiles as another item on the onboarding checklist, they’re more likely to get it done. When you hire a new agent, make this part of the process. Host a profile set-up session during an office meeting. Don’t let your current agents off the hook. Give them an opportunity to get with the program by going over how to write a profile and the ins and outs of updating it everywhere.  Host a profile set-up session at your office and have every agent in the office set up their profiles together! Have your office managers review profiles for every key site and work with their agents to update them. A little accountability goes a long way. Asking your office managers […]

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Paragon Partners With Zillow For MLS Features

by Victor Lund on June 7, 2017

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According to a news release today, Black Knight Financial Services, developers of the Paragon MLS system and has partnered with Zillow for data management tools. Zillow purchased Bridge Interactive last year, a company that is well known for RETS servers (Contact) and listing input modules (Compose) for MLSs. As part of the alignment between the two companies, the release states that Zillow will be providing the technology to aggregate data from all of the hundreds of markets into Zillow’s data repository which Black Knight calls Property Information Central (PIC). This new system will act as the solution that will provide developers with access to MLS in RESO certified methods of RETS 1.8 and the new RESO WebAPI. WAV Group asked a few questions – Black Knight responded as follows by email: WAV Group: Is this an optional service for your MLS customers or does this replace your current MLS service? BKFS Answer: Optional service. WAV Group: What protects against Zillow using the data you provide them in other ways? BKFS Answer: Any use of MLS data is still covered by the normal data usage terms and conditions you would find in any 3rdparty agreement. WAV Group: Will Paragon be moving all listing input over to Compose? BKFS Answer:  No.  The Paragon Add/Edit component is still available and is used heavily.  To put this in perspective, we are seeing an uptick in usage of RETS Update, which is what Bridge’s Compose product uses.  Other 3rd party applications also use RETS Update to add or edit listings.  Another recent example is ZipForm.  You can create a new listing in Paragon directly from a form in ZipForm with the click of a button.  This is all about providing an ‘open’ MLS platform so that if a Broker, Agent or Board wants to use another platform to start their listings, we can support it with RETS Update NOW.  I think this is important because ‘single point of entry’ is a real issue that we are trying to solve. WAV Group: Will Contact contain data for all Paragon MLSs (how many do you have at this point?) BKFS Answer: Contact is typically deployed on an MLS by MLS basis.  We have 210 organizations as Paragon customers.  I say organizations because with consolidations and mergers these organizations may contain multiple MLSs or Boards.  Contact is also used for the PIC, which is a consolidated database of DD compliant listings […]

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Zillow Improves Broker Programs

by Victor Lund on February 15, 2017

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Zillow Group, which includes the websites of Zillow and Trulia have landed on a broker strategy for marketing that works. Zillow Group, which includes the websites of Zillow and Trulia have landed on a broker strategy for marketing that works. Featured listings are dead, and have been replaced with a product to advertise in ways that drive the largest margin opportunity for a brokerage firm – leads to eTeams and Relocation. I call this “shared display,” where the brokerage and agent are clearly displayed and may be contacted – easily understood as “your listing, same leads.” This functionality works equally well for any brokerage or large team. Display rules Primer. There are three general types of display rules, Fair Display, Shared Display, and IDX Display. Fair Display is pretty simple to understand, if it’s your listing, then only your identity is displayed on the listing. Many people like this display because it’s “your listing, your lead.” It works like the new car dealer. You call BMW to buy BMW. The second type of display is a shared display. This shared display is where Zillow has innovated. Under the ad portal strategy, the listing agent and broker are always displayed on their listing and can receive leads. But the display is a shared display; so three other advertisers may be displayed on the listing if they pay. Lets understand that this is “your listing, same leads.” Our research shows that brokers get the same volume of leads on their listings with shared display as they did with fair display (read on). The third display is IDX display. In this display that is popularized on broker and agent websites, the site owner gets all the leads and the listing broker and agent have a bi-line. This is understood as “your listing, no leads.” This model is akin to a used car dealership where the company will sell all brands of cars. Shared Display outperforms Fair Display WAV Group performed A-B testing on Zillow that pitted two brokers who had the same number of listings on the site (one had 430 listings and the other had 431). The broker who paid for fair display, exclusively featuring the brokerage and agent branding, received 281 email contacts with 660,133 listing views. The broker with the free, shared display of 430 listings featuring competing agents, received 411 email contacts, 590,914 listing views. The free, shared display outperformed […]

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Zillow Group Buys Bridge to Go Upstream

by Victor Lund on August 16, 2016

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Zillow Group announced the purchase of Bridge Interactive, making them the provider of listing input in a number of MLSs, and the data distribution manager in many others. In some ways, Bridge Interactive is like Upstream, but not a competitor. Bridge is about helping brokers solve data problems and may become a conduit that more easily permits Upstream to allow brokers to deliver listing content to MLSs. Throughout the process of developing the Request for Proposal for Project Upstream, the technology workgroup evaluated many technology offerings. At the end of the day, there were three pieces to the Upstream puzzle that needed to be put together – Listing Input and Management; Data Repository; and Listing Distribution. Listing input and management is the hardest par, as is it includes the ability to handle the sophistication of an MLS system. Many technology firms have ample Data Repositories so that is not the hard part. Listing distribution is pretty common and not hard either. A stand-alone solution for listing input is rare, most MLS systems have this component baked in. Atlanta-based Bridge Interactive developed a specific application to solve the problem of overlapping market disorder for MLSs, whereby a single listing would go into two or more MLSs. As a case in point, the Atlanta, GA area has two MLS offerings – FMLS and Georgia MLS. Bridge Interactive allows brokers to enter a listing once into Bridge Interactive and publish it in both MLSs, as well as capture additional fields required by the broker. The hard part is supporting the business rules of an MLS or multiple MLSs and resolving them into a single user interface. Zillow Group has had the pieces to Upstream with the combination of Postlets for listing input, their massive data repository, and listing distribution, through both Postlets and Retsly. I would expect that their data repository is equal to or greater than most any data repository in our industry. It certainly is massive and seems to have no trouble with the largest concurrent real estate load in the world. But Postlets was developed for a simpler type of data input – namely input for syndication. Today, Postlets has been re-deployed as the Zillow Rentals Manager and is no longer used for listing input. With Bridge Interactive, Zillow Group has improved their capabilities in listing input significantly. Moreover, they have acquired the team from Bridge, who are among the sharpest in our […]

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WAV Group Partnering With MLSs On Zillow Survey

by Victor Lund on October 27, 2015

WAV Group is recruiting MLS and broker participants for a study to get an understanding of what these groups of people think about their relationship with Zillow. This study is funded internally at WAV Group. What do home buyers think of the service? What do home sellers think of the service? What do renters think of the service? What do Property Managers think of the Service What do Premier Agents think of the service? What does Premier Mortgage think of the service? What do real estate brokers of all sizes think of the service? By participating in the study, you will send our survey link to the audience(s) that you have access to. Primarily, we are inviting MLSs to survey agents and brokers. You will get a free copy of your survey results and a free copy of the National results. Why are we doing this? Zillow is in the process of doing a similar study right now. I was asked by a Zillow executive – Why is WAV Group doing this? WAV Group has clients all over the spectrum with Zillow. Some of our clients are raving fans and others are staunchly against the company. We find that businesses that strategically integrate Zillow services into their business can find success in the strategy. We also find that companies that strategically delist themselves from Zillow also find success. Brokerage leaders are good operators and have the ability to thrive regardless of their strategic direction. Zillow is about to release an historic price increase in January. They are going to Zip Code based pricing. For some of our broker customers, that would take their Zillow advertising from $5000 per month to $25,000 per month. In the purest form of lead capture, incubation, and conversion – the investment in advertising does not work. Zillow advertising does more than generate buyers for homes. It is a listing tool, a recruiting tool, a retention tool, and may support other business lines of full service brokerages like mortgage, title, insurance, property management, commercial, etc. If you would like to support WAV Group with this research project, please reach out to Victor Lund.

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DotLoop and Zillow

by Victor Lund on August 19, 2015

As far as I know, DotLoop customers were happy enough with the product and service until the announcement that the company was being purchased by Zillow. That news, along with the $108M price tag of the acquisition was the fundamental buzz at Inman Connect conference last week. About the price of $108 Million. Typically companies’ sell for a multiple of profit – 6x to 10x profit is not bad. The last acquisition of this type was the Real Estate Digital deal, which sold for a much lower multiple than DotLoop. In the case of DotLoop, it looks like Zillow paid a multiple of revenue. As best we can tell, DotLoop would be running at a rate of $15 million in annual revenue. Its privately held, so that number is a guess. They hold a distant third position in the market share behind ZipLogix and Instanet. With the calculus on this valuation, Instanet would be worth about $300 to $500 Million. ZipLogix would be worth about $750 Million or more. The multiple that Zillow paid on this deal is irrational unless they see an opportunity to modify the business to reap profits in entirely new ways. Rather than spend hours on the phone with the investor community discussing the deal, here is a summary outlook on why the $108 could be justified from Zillow’s point of view. I get the strategy. Today, consumers shop for property on Zillow. They then bump into a real estate agent who handles everything from there, and Z is long gone from the picture. With transaction management, they can stick their brand inside the transaction. This strategy not only allows them to measure ROI on Zillow lead conversions to measure “share of wallet,” but it also provides them with a lead to close solution that supports the consumer to think that they purchased a home on Zillow. Zillow connects with consumer mindshare first. If they continue to expand the consumer’s understanding of services from Zillow, the consumer will stick with them through more of the transaction steps. The long-term goal object seems to be to develop a Zillow customer for life. DotLoop fits with this. The homeowner will be able to log into Zillow and grab their transaction documents forever. The implications for the relationship with the broker and the agent in the loop would also seemingly be solidified. Far out strategy. Sometimes you need to […]

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Is Zillow A Great Broker?

by Victor Lund on July 23, 2015

Zillow is not a broker. Well, technically they are registered as a brokerage in many states and hold brokerage licenses, but they do not market themselves as a brokerage. The point is that they provide a lot of broker-like support for agents that are noteworthy and remarkable. There are plenty of brokers who can take a page out of their book and improve their business. Specifically, brokers can learn from the way that Zillow provides technology tools and communicates and trains agents. Wth the acquisition of of a transaction management solution they complete a broker-like set that includes agent websites with IDX, marketing, lead management, mobile, digital signatures, agent ratings, CRM, not to mention a pile of consumers. Zillow Academy Zillow has a full on training, technology, education, and support group. They have live agent events, record educational webinars, develop tutorial videos for using Zillow, and invite agents to read and discuss topics on the Zillow Pros Blog. Seriously, only a few brokers could have a full time employee doing this sort of thing. I am not sure of the number of agents that would be required to support this type of FTE, but I would guess that it’s probably somewhere in the 350 agent range. Franchises do a pretty good job of this. So does Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. Some large MLSs do this too. If you need a roadmap for excellence, take a look at this Zillow Academy page http://www.zillow.com/academy/UpcomingWebinars.htm Drip Marketing Zillow also pushes content out to agents in bite-sized pieces via email.  In fact, it was this email piece on Phone Scripts for Success that prompted this post. What I liked: Subject Line: Success is on the line, Phone Scripts that Work. It’s kinda punny – line – phone…… you get it. Strong Offer: Free Scripts – Zillow cannot do the work for agents, but we all know that door knocking and phone calls build business in the best possible way for agents. Ingredients of a broker training program Drip Marketing Webinars Training on Demand Office meetings Office Manager training Quick Start Training Help Desk Video Training WAV Group can help your brokerage put together training and communications that will transform your company. They are ideally designed for large firms. Call Victor Lund if you want a consult. p.s.  Brokers need to choose to outsource all of this stuff to Zillow, or be […]

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No HATERS in Real Estate Please!

by Marilyn Wilson on May 22, 2015

After just coming back from the NAR Mid-Year meetings I harken back to one of our greatest spiritual leaders of all time – The Dalai Lama. He has an amazing quote that I feel bears repeating – “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasing resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. You have always the choice.” For those of you that are following the latest real estate news, NAR Mid-Year was a very exciting meeting. There were great strides taken with the Broker Public Portal and RPR’s AMP program. There were great discussions about ways NAR through it’s RPR division could provide a whole new way to help brokers become more efficient, differentiated, innovative and maybe even more profitable. Just days before the NAR Mid-Year conference Zillow announced that it would provide public records to MLSs – another potential game changer in the industry. Are these programs “real” yet? Will any of these programs make it? Will they roll out as originally outlined? Not likely. Like all software products and new businesses their business model, revenue stream and even core value proposition might change. While I believe all of these programs present interesting opportunities for all of us to consider, this article is NOT promoting or critically evaluating ANY of them. It’s about our industry’s REACTION to new ideas.   As soon as a new idea is presented the HATERS come out in bounds. There are a million theories about why it won’t work or about the “TRUE” motivations underlying the initiative. Instead of spending a quiet moment to contemplate the potential opportunities that each idea presents, we start immediately talking about why it WON’T work. Why is it that we don’t even give ideas a chance to germinate before we throw them under the bus? Not only did I hear people panning the new initiatives being proposed, I also heard deep criticism of those that had the guts to reach out and try something new and different in the spirit of creating a stronger and more vital industry.   I find that very disappointing. The world is littered with now-defunct industries that refused to believe that disruption was inevitable or even an exciting opportunity to strengthen an industry. Instead of carefully considering a new approach to satisfy the needs of today’s customers, these industries held doggedly […]

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MLS Not Ready for Direct Syndication

by Victor Lund on May 5, 2015

In no small way, the impact of Zillow and Trulia being disconnected from ListHub has caused troubled waters for many MLSs. Although ListHub continues to manage syndication to a wide number of sites, they no longer support two of the top five. What’s the plan? MLSs are scrambling in every direction today. The biggest issue has been the data license agreement to Zillow. Everything was neat and tidy when ListHub had one agreement with each portal. Now Zillow is faced with hundreds of MLS agreements all with different terms. According to MLS executives, that is Zillow’s choice. Efforts by legal firms to negotiate on behalf of groups of MLSs have been shunned by the Zillow Group in favor of individual contracts. Comedic Tragedy: Each Zillow Group agreement is confidential. It begs the question, how can the MLS inform the broker of what is in it? MLS Technical Issues The ListHub service has two features. The first is the broker dashboard for syndication preferences. The second is the data distribution server. The broker dashboard is the critical ingredient for direct syndication. It puts brokers in charge of where their data goes through a process known as broker opt-in or broker opt-out. MLS data distribution servers from most vendors (called RETS servers) do not have a broker dashboard feature. Some MLS system vendors like FBS were quick to add them. Rapattoni launches tomorrow. CoreLogic is planning their launch roll out with customers now. Paragon is in the research and planning stages. Beyond that, I am not sure. Third Party Services Technology firms like Onboard Informatics, Real Estate Digital, Bridge Interactive and perhaps others have developed MLS solutions with enhanced features for managing and reporting on listing distribution. These services are typically found in large MLSs with more enterprise data management needs. Most smaller MLSs use the vendor solution or rely on ListHub. The Need for Communication A lot is changing everyday. Zillow is out trying to get agreements signed with over 800 MLSs. Most MLSs are not talking to their brokers about their preferences. Most brokers do not know what the readiness state is for the MLS to support direct syndication feeds. If you are a broker, call every one of your MLSs and figure out what’s going on. If you are an MLS, be sure to ask brokers what their preferences are and get feedback before making decisions. MLSs would do […]

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I had the honor of working with the Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS® today. They hosted a Town Hall asking for input on whether or not their brokers would like them to negotiate a Direct Feed from the Zillow Group on their behalf.  Michael Bustamante did a great job of framing the issues that need to be discussed and ultimately decided upon. While the issue is anything, but clear cut, there were interesting questions posed that may be helpful for you to use in your market as you try to think your way through your market’s decision about direct feeds. 1.     Potential Need/Impact – What percentage of your market’s listings are already being syndicated through franchises?  In this market, more than half of the listings were being syndicated through about 7 franchises.  You may want to check and see how many of your franchises already have a direct feed in place. This will help you understand what percentage of your listings are actually affected by a direct feed coming from the MLS. 2.     How many are participating?  If you currently have Listhub in your marketplace, you can get a sense of how many of your listings are currently being syndicated to Zillow and Trulia. 3.     What are the trade-offs?   The Zillow Group is offering priority placement for Listing Agents, prominent MLS attribution and a few other goodies.  Ask your members how important these trade-offs are for them.    Each MLS will likely negotiate their own terms, but you can begin with the program that has been outlined publicly. 4.     How committed are your brokers?  How important is Zillow and Trulia to your broker’s success?  There are a lot of schools of thought are the role and importance of third party sites in broker success.  Poll your brokers and find out where they come out on this topic.  If they believe these sites are an important part of their marketing mix then the next question is whether they want the MLS to negotiate a program on their behalf or if they would prefer to go it alone. 5.     Longer Term implications – While many brokers believe that Zillow and Trulia help them secure listings, some are worried about the long-term impact of such a fundamental partnership.  Ask them what their longer-term concerns are. What happens when third party sites have data that is high quality as broker sites?  What could happen to […]

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Spending Over $60K Per Month on Zillow

by Victor Lund on December 23, 2014

It is not very hard to find out who Zillow’s top customers are. Just visit the website and look at theAgent Reviews section. One of those top customers is Samer Kuraishi Group from the Washington, D.C. area. Samer is a second generation real estate agent. The brokerage, A-K Real Estate, Inc. (“A-K”) is a boutique 40 agent firm, located about two blocks from the White House, that was founded by his father. Together, they have grown the company significantly, supporting consumers in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Much of the company’s growth has happened over the past few years and was driven by advertising on Zillow. Samer indicated that the company did about $49M in 2012 when they first started buying advertising on Zillow. This year, Samer is expecting to do $27M+ personally and he expects to hit $150 million total in 2014 which is up about 50% from 2013 $101M in sales. Samer is purchasing Zip Code marketing on Zillow at a rate of about $60k+ per month. That is more than most brokerage firms. For that, Samer is guaranteed around 700,000 consumer impressions per month on Zillow. In truth, Zillow typically over-delivers on the contracted minimum impressions, so his actual impressions are over 1.2 million per month. That is a lot of online advertising. Most of his leads come from his group profile page. When Zillow markets its advertising impressions, it does so by creating a market value of those impressions by zip code. Some zip codes may be as low as $25 per thousand impressions. On the high side, the cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) can be over $100. Many markets seem to average about $50 CPM, and lots of markets around the nation are sold-out and have a waiting list. Samer even owns zip codes where he does not typically provide services, just to build his portfolio. Today, Samer owns 110 to 115 zip codes on the Zillow site, but he refers some of the generated business to local agents, whom he trusts. For $60k+ per month, Samer receives a little more than 700 leads per month. Additionally, Samer invests in other portals and has a technology partnership with Virtual Results for his website. He has a full suite of technology solutions that he admittedly built through trial and error. But Samer says that he has everything wired the way he likes it today. “I have a […]

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The Real Benefit to Z and T Merger

by Victor Lund on October 13, 2014

Big advertisers need big media sites. Zillow is big and Trulia is big, but they are not huge.  The hugest would be Facebook. Think of the Madison Avenue crowd. Both companies have sales staff pitching pretty much the same value proposition. That sales team now turns into one. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff pretty much said exactly this in an interview with Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money (http://business-news.thestreet.com/crookstontimes/story/jim-cramers-mad-money-recap-now-is-not-the-time-for-panic/12861526) “Rascoff noted that when it comes to the Internet, user experience rules. Once you have an audience the advertisers will follow, he said, which is why the Trulia acquisition makes sense. Zillow will operate both brands when the acquisition closes, allowing users to pick the brand that fits them best or advertise on both platforms” WAV Group has seen this before, but not at this scale. For example, when a large phone carrier wants to target real estate agents, they come with a budget of $1 million or more to spend. There are not enough B to B impressions to fill that order. I presume by extension that Zillow and Trulia will combine to go after the huge online advertisers – Fortune 100 types.  Furthermore, they have put a moat around the business with Zillow, Trulia, Yahoo Real Estate, MSN Real Estate, AOL Real Estate, Scripts, and 360 Newspapers. Aside from the MOVE network, it is pretty hard to access homebuyer and sellers at scale without going through the Zillow network. Better yet, Zillow and Trulia will not undercut each other’s prices. The fact remains that the homebuyer and seller impression value is far above the current rates because of the amount of money they spend in the home transaction process. Thousands of dollars are up for grabs. We saw some other signals this week that will continue to play out if the merger is successful. Brokers will be able to negotiate terms with both sites in concert. Although the pricing for each site may be different, the principles around things like fair display guidelines are likely to apply to both sites. Most firms treat Z & T as a category of sites. They treat MOVE differently because of the National Association of Realtors affiliation to realtor.com. For example, I imagine that the Edina Realty agreement with both sites was pretty uniform, and Allen Tate’s choice to drop both was pretty uniform. Not being involved in either of those transaction, I […]

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Coldwell Banker Chooses Imprev

by Victor Lund on September 29, 2014

Today’s real estate firms, franchise or otherwise, need to provide a robust marketing solution for agents that especially support them with digital marketing tools: Video, virtual tours, eMail marketing, and social media marketing. In an announcement today, Coldwell Banker announced a partnership with Imprev to power their digital marketing suite for all of their franchise companies. There are a number of firms that offer marketing solutions, but the two firms that have dominated the selection among franchise organizations in the past years include Marketleader and Imprev. Strangely enough, until a few years ago, Imprev was Marketleader’s partner for their marketing suite, jointly providing a full solution to Keller Williams, unit Marketleader purchased SharperAgent in 2011. At the time of the acquisition, SharperAgent claimed 30,000 customers and Marketleader claimed 50,000 customers. Marketleader then went on to sign up a number of large franchise organizations, including Century 21. Today, the Marketleader suite is a business unit owned by Trulia who is in the process of being acquired by real estate portal leader, Zillow. No doubt, this announcement for Imprev is significant. Imprev has had a nearly decade-long standing relationship with RE/MAX and recently launched an automation platform with Berkshire Hathaway’s largest brokerage, Fox and Roach Realtors (a solution that is tightly integrated into CoreLogic’s AgentAchieve platform). Imprev shows with Coldwell Banker that it can connect to Leadrouter, which is a standard used by other Realogy franchises. Congratulations to Imprev and to Coldwell Banker’s 84,000 sales associates. Since over 80% of a firm’s business comes from sphere marketing – marketing suites like Imprev are critical service offerings. disclaimer – WAV Group has provided consulting services to all companies mentioned in this post. Press Release Coldwell Banker Unveils New eMarketing Platform Madison, N.J. (Sept. 29, 2014) – Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today announced an agreement with Imprev, Inc. to power the Coldwell Banker® brand’s fully mobile eMarketing platform. Coldwell Banker eMarketing is part of the new Coldwell Banker 360 suite of products that give Coldwell Banker independent agents and brokers access to a platform that delivers an extensive range of exclusive designs and marketing content and allow them to easily engage with consumers via the Web, email and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. “Our new Coldwell Banker eMarketing platform will make it easier for Coldwell Banker agents to connect with prospective home buyers and sellers while increasing productivity,” said Sean Blankenship, senior vice president […]

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Allre Causes Brokers To ReThink Strategy

by Victor Lund on September 18, 2014

The FSBO dam just sprouted another leak, and brokers better pay attention. If you have not heard about Allre, you better watch the video below right now. It is collaboration between banks like Prime Lending, Home Insurance providers, home warranty companies, and even a lock box vendor to facilitate FSBO sales. The fee to the consumer is ZERO – nothing. There are no brokerage services at all, so they completely surpass all RESPA regulations. It is 100% FSBO. The only thing that will sit between Allre and success is venture capital. If they attract enough venture capital to attract the consumer, traditional brokerage is going to hit a wall. WAV Group is a strategy company. To remain competitive, businesses need to act in ways that allow them to survive in a fast changing market place. In the case of Allre – they are only launching in San Diego. Perhaps the industry at large does not need to hit the panic button yet. However, you probably need to pay close attention. I know that we will. San Diego is a high value market place. According to Zillow, (http://www.zillow.com/san-diego-ca/home-values/) the average home price in San Diego is $492,000. As a side bar, I did a Google search for “the average home price in San Diego and the only broker who had the information was ZipRealty – an article from 2012; Trulia Voices had a question about home building; and the best first search result was Zillow. Where are all of the Brokers, Associations, and MLS answers? Why The Business Will Work Everyone talks about the 6% commission rate – but my research shows that the number may be a bit lower in actuality which is line with the Allre CEO talks about in her pitch. It makes San Diego a ripe candidate for this style of opportunity pursuit. That is enough incentive for FSBO buyers and seller to take a risk and sample the service. I would not be surprised to see a similar service pop up in San Jose, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Francisco, and other high-end real estate markets in California. If you average sales price is below $200,000 – the incentive for FSBOs to save money is less attractive. Driving Consumer Traffic Today, there are a number of third party websites that allow for FSBO listings. They already have lots of consumer traffic buoyed by a great consumer search […]

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The End Of War Between Zillow and Trulia

by Victor Lund on August 13, 2014

There is a major war going on in the taxi industry today. Uber and Lyft are duking it out. Both companies have deep cash pockets and they are deploying it in marketing and undercutting each other. It is pretty hard to know which service is better as they work hard to drive market share. As Zillow marches toward the stock swap to join forces with Trulia, perhaps a new wisdom of that transaction will reveal itself. They just avoided a very expensive war where the two of them may have killed each other off to reign supreme. It is pretty clear that the company that spends the most to attract the consumer is the company that gets the most traffic. Sure, the site itself is important in terms of usability or in terms of features like AVM, mortgage information, agent ratings, rentals and the like. But the real reason why these companies have the traffic they have is that they take every dollar they bring in from agents and brokers and buy more traffic. Many industry analysts have long term concerns about the voice of real estate not being a broker or an agent or part of the REALTOR family. Those are reasonable concerns that any incumbent would have in the face of new competition. But look at the facts. These companies are marketing the entire real estate industry on the back of investor dollars more than ad revenue from agents and brokers. Even if you want them to go away – be sure to thank them for the advertising first. They built the mulit-billions in value in their business. As an aside – Uber and Lyft have grown their value to $18.2 billion. I guess the taxi booking business is big business. Remember, market-share lead does not assure success. These companies are hopeful that it will, but in the interim, some brokers and agents are riding on the returns from their investment in reaching the consumer. They are putting more dollars to work than the dollars that you pay J We expected this value to continue for many years as Trulia and Zillow independently competed against each other by deploying dollars from their IPO. With the merger, these companies are not likely to be injured by competition between the two of them. They are on the same team. It will be time for Realtor.com and Homes.com to step up. Competition […]

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